Vol: 19 No: 4 – February 2021
APT is committed to OSA as a diverse, equitable and inclusive school community. A place where students thrive, and where parents, teachers, and students— together with the school leadership and board, partner to ensure the success of the school.
Please join us for the Monthly APT General Meetings on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6:30pm!
PLEASE ATTEND: March 17, 2021 @ 6:30pm
The March APT General Meeting will focus on supporting the mental health of OSA students and families. More details on panel participants to come. Please mark your calendars!
Zoom: LINK Meeting ID: 935 596 0147 Password: OSArocks
The Alliance of Parents and Teachers (APT) meets on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 6:30-8pm. Agendas will be sent out in the days leading up to each meeting. If you’d like to suggest a topic for a general meeting or have other questions/concerns, please reach out to the APT board – firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know 6th grade families or those who are new to the school, please send this newsletter to them.
Sign-up for Konstella! “The only platform where OSA parents can have interactive discussions online”
Konstella Videos & Guides: See these useful Konstella Videos & Guides
OSA POC (People of Color) Town Hall Recap
On February 16, 2021, the OSA POC (People of Color) group hosted a special POC Town Hall. The meeting was attended by over 70 participants including BIPOC students, staff, alumni, and parents. Although anyone was invited to the meeting, white allies were asked to listen, in order to prioritize the space for POC.
A bit of history about the POC group was shared with the audience. The POC group at OSA was founded several years ago by a group of parents in partnership with OSA staff member Cava Menzies. The group held a town hall meeting last year and several key issues were prioritized:
- Step It Up was identified as a critical resource in reaching youth and families of color in order to build a pipeline of families coming to OSA, more representative of Oakland demographics.
- The staff and Board of OSA should prioritize professional development for themselves on DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and equity issues.
- Dedicated DEI resources must be adequately included in OSA budgets: this includes adequate staffing, Step It Up expenses, and student-led initiatives.
The Board of Students of Color (BOSC) shared the demands that they developed in spring 2020 and had presented to school administrators earlier this year (see last three pages of BOSC Newsletter). They reported some progress with the school on several specific items. Use of the word “demands” was briefly discussed as an appropriate term given the urgency of what POC have and are currently facing in communities and institutions. Uma Joshi, BOSC student advisor and OSA DEI program researcher noted that the word is not a “threat” but is meant to underscore the seriousness of existing conditions that must change.
To further expand upon these issues, POC leader and parent Brittany Walker Pettigrew introduced the AESA rubric on aspects of multicultural and anti-racist institutions.
She described a range of institutional characteristics in relation to DEI and equity issues, from absolutely operating within a white supremacy structure to those organizations that have done tremendous and transformative structural work to create equitable and accountable institutions. The audience was then placed in breakout rooms to consider where OSA falls within the range on the AESA rubric (1 = being without equity & accountability and 6 = being shining examples of what an institution can become). Following small group discussion, a representative from each group was asked to present on their findings to the larger audience.
Overall, there was a striking consensus by attendees that OSA is an institution that can be characterized as “symbolic” in their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work, scoring a 2.5-3.0 on the 1.0-6.0 scale.
The following are sample sentiments that were shared during the Town Hall:
- There is tokenism of the BSOC and/or parents of color when OSA needs to highlight diversity.
- Alumni of color shared they had raised issues regarding racism in the classroom and that there was no follow-up by the school, and for some, this contributed to an unsafe environment.
- OSA has made efforts to improve, but there is still a long way to go.
- School structures and leadership do not reflect an equity-driven school.
- Still a white supremacy culture institution
- Staff of color are expected to cover many roles with one salary, no job title to reflect all they are doing, and meager (or none) compensation for extra duties.
- The systems are not built to retain staff of color at OSA.
- Top-down change is needed.
- OSA must commit to structural change beyond words and feelings.
- A lot of students of color did not get chances to shine and were not asked if things were going okay.
- A lot of alumni are not comfortable coming back into the OSA community because of some of these issues and there has been a lack of effort by OSA to outreach to them, beyond the high profile, celebrity alumni.
- There were classroom altercations and a lack of safe space for Black students, slurs by some teachers, an ignoring of complaints systemically.
- Teachers need to hold each other more accountable.
- Do not make students of color do the emotional labor of identifying anti-blackness and other incidents of racism as this compounds students’ trauma and vulnerability and creates an unsafe environment for them. The administration seems to have trouble bringing POC into decision-making.
- Lots of excitement at alumni showing up and sharing their experiences at the meeting!
- OSA should hire alumni moving forward.
The meeting came to a close after an incredibly rich conversation. It was clear that there is a desire for more open conversation about these issues. Although there were some very hard truths shared that point to a need for a transformation of the way OSA currently operates, it was also clear that there is a deep love and commitment to OSA, and there is hope that urgent changes can be made.
The APT has dedicated itself to the achievement of meaningful equity for all OSA students and families as its core issue this year. We believe that the POC Town Hall conversation reflects built-up concerns and injuries that have occurred at OSA, and that in order to move forward we must acknowledge and learn from this, and then take immediate action to rectify the harm. The themes that emerged from POC at this meeting must serve as guidance for OSA in moving forward with its DEI and equity goals. In particular we feel the AESA rubric provides key benchmarks for tracking OSA’s transformation into a more equitable institution. We are committed to collaborative work with the POC group, staff of color, PODS, BOSC, and the staff union at OSA (COSATS) to ensure that all voices are heard, and that real change is happening.
OSA LGBT2SQI+ Education and Advocacy Group
This group is for parents and caregivers, teachers and staff who: identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two Spirit (2S), Queer, Intersex (LGBT2SQI+) and more, for people who were raised in LGBT2SQI+ families, people who are raising LGBT2SQI+ young people, and those who want to be in community and solidarity with LGBT2SQI+ people.
We will gather for:
- community building and socializing
- work on integrating work and visibility of LGBT2SQI+ artists and artivism in all of the arts disciplines
- integrate LGBT2SQI+ organizing in collaboration with organizing around JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) at OSA
(Contact: Maya Scott-Chung email@example.com 510-381-0876, co-parent of Luna Scott-Chung (11th grade Theatre)
Difficult Conversations Lead to Positive Change
PODS (Parents of Children with Disabilities) continues to work with OSA administration to resolve equity and disability rights concerns presented during the current school year. We are excited to report that our partnership, advocacy and commitment to serve our children with IEPs (Individualized Education Program) and 504 plans have yielded tangible results. In our January meeting Ms. Ordaz and Mr. Oz shared that they will be resuming assessment evaluations which may be in various forms in-person, on-line, and/or through outside agents that may perform these evaluations when OSA is not able to safely do these evaluations in-person.
In alliance with APT we are currently working on future projects such as mental health awareness, a second PODS focus APT general meeting, as well as advocacy for OSA board to vote and assign a CAC Member (Community Advisory Committee member) with El Dorado Charter SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area).
Lastly, OSA is looking to add an additional special education case manager.
Please spread the word and share this job posting in all of your networks. https://www.edjoin.org/Home/DistrictJobPosting/1342780
We will continue to bring resources, ally forces to advocate for our students rights, and provide moral support for parents and caregivers.
PODS – Is a parent led social group for Parents of Students with Disabilities.
To receive meeting updates, resources, and connect to other parents in PODS please join our group APT-PODS in Konstella.
Check out this link for more Konstella tips.
Our goal this year is to ensure adequate services are implemented for all students with IEPs and 504 plans.
OUSD’s Sonali Murarka Says OSA Parents Were Crucial to Charter Renewal
APT representatives recently met with Sonali Murarka, Executive Director of Enrollment and Charter Schools at Oakland Unified School District. She was enthusiastic and encouraging, offering strategic advice for OSA’s future. She informed us that OUSD would be hiring a community liaison for charter school parents and that the APT is always welcome to contact her office. We asked what OUSD would be looking for in OSA’s next charter renewal and how we might enhance the value of OSA to Oakland to ensure a successful application. “Real parent engagement is essential,”she told us, reporting that in our last charter renewal “OSA parents were crucial; without their testimony OSA’s charter renewal wouldn’t have happened.” A comment APT members also heard from an OUSD board member.
APT Is Seeks New Board Members!
The APT Board of Directors is recruiting for new members!
As you may know, we are a Board comprised of parents invested in OSA’s success for all students & families. The APT is the largest and oldest parent group at OSA, and we are committed to providing parent and family community building and educational events. We are also strongly committed to advocating for equity and success for all OSA students and families. Our Board meets monthly, and we also plan and offer a monthly APT General Meeting to the larger parent/family community at OSA.
If you are interested, we would LOVE to hear from you!
Please send an email with any questions and a bit of information about yourself to Co-Presidents Melinda de Jesus (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Morey Riordan (email@example.com). Please note that we are looking for candidates who can commit to serving through the 2021-2022 school year.
- *NEW: Educators Who See Themselves as White Allies Are Dangerous When It Comes to Developing Anti-Racist Classrooms
- *NEW: Teens Take Charge and UCLA CIvil Rights Project are offering an Academics x Activists event about racial justice in k-12 schools in NYC.
- *NEW: Disability Visibility Project
- Ford Foundation No Equality without Everyone
- Teaching Artist Guild Professional Development Conferences
- How To Sustain Your Activism
- Teaching in the Aftermath of the Coup
- Special Ed in the Age of COVID – The School Bus for Distance Learning Came, But It Didn’t Have a Ramp
- Struggle for Ethnic Studies at California College of the Arts
- “This podcast outlines the history of the struggle for Ethnic Studies at CCA. Former chairs Dr. Opal Adisa, Dr. Sonia Manjon and [APT co-chair] Dr. Melinda Luisa de Jesús dialogue with current chair Shylah Hamilton about “this sacred work,” what sustains us, and what it means to be women of color in academia… “
- What Happened When My School Started to Dismantle White Supremacy Culture
- Nice White Parents Podcast
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- EmbraceRace Website and Upcoming Webinars
- GoodNews Antiracism Resources Links
…more to come!
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